Usain Bolt is set to compete and lead a team in the new Nitro Athletics concept that will kick off with a three-night series next February.
Bolt, who won the 100- and 200-meter sprints and the 4×100 relay gold medals at the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics, attended the launch in Melbourne on Friday to explain a format that features a mix of power, endurance and team events in sprints, distance and field disciplines.
“This will be track and field as it’s never been seen before and that’s why I’m involved — not only as a competitor, but also as a team captain,” said Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100 and 200 and the most dominant sprinter of all time. “Nitro Athletics is what track and field needs — a fresh way to present the sport.”
The first series will be held at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium and feature six teams of 24 athletes: 12 women and 12 men.
Bolt, who has never raced in Australia, will reportedly receive $1 million for his involvement in the series, which is backed by Athletics Australia and the Victoria state government.
During his visit Down Under, Bolt narrowly avoided being kicked by a racehorse in the mounting yard on Oaks day during the Melbourne Cup carnival and was a regular feature in the news.
Athletics Australia director John Steffensen, a former Commonwealth Games 400-meter champion, said Bolt’s participation would give the event global appeal.
“The headline act of Nitro Athletics Melbourne is the biggest name in all of sport,” Steffensen said. “No other sport has an athlete like Usain Bolt — he’s the fastest human on the planet.”
The 30-year-old Bolt is expected to retire from elite sprinting after the world championships in London next year, but hasn’t ruled out returning to represent Jamaica at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, in Queensland state.